Posts Tagged ‘monk’

Co-dependency: the hallmark of a dysfunctional relationship.

No heavy dose of psychoanalysis is needed to diagnose my relationships as dysfunctional. I am guilty of co-creating malfunctioning partnerships confusing love with sex while haggling my own needs just so someone won’t leave me.

After 50+ years on the planet I have gained enough emotional sobriety to see the dysfunctional threads of co-dependency in my personal life. Now I wake to find them in places where I never thought it possible for them to exist. These threads of dysfunction are so deeply woven in the fabric of our collective consciousness we have become blind to their reality.

I began to think of these things as an image of Christ glared from the back of an SUV during a run through the privileged suburbs of NYC. Christ on the back of a Range Rover triggered ruminations of my own Catholic upbringing.

Ok. Maybe Catholic is a bit of a stretch.

Most of the Bible stories I know I learned from the movies; Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Robe, Godspell, Barabbas, Samson and Delilah, Jesus Christ Superstar (is anyone with me or have I completely dated myself?)

My fierce, church-going grandmother (God rest her blessed soul) drove the fear of God straight to my heart. Stick out your tongue was her mantra whenever she thought I was up to no good. Sure enough a black spot appeared on my tongue, a sign straight from God that I had in fact sinned. It did not matter that the divine abberation was only visible to the eyes of my grandmother the voice of God had indeed spoken.

Thoughts of God filled me with fear. His super sonic vision could see every flaw, sin and wrongdoing I was up to from his throne in the sky. The impressions that laid a foundation for my religious orientation were not terribly formal but one thing was sure. In the eyes of God I was not good enough.

Inherent in any co-dependent relationship is an imbalance of power. We lose the voice of our inner authority as we succumb to the needs of our oh so human heart. We are driven by our needs for love, attention, security and approval. When they go unmet we shape our self in ways we believe will make us loveable.

The Catholic ritual of confession is an imbalance of power in action if there ever was one. Inside a dark and musty, smaller than a broom closet booth you begin a conversation with Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It is all downhill from there. Who stands a chance against the priest with a direct pipeline to God?

When we assign someone else the job of loving us, validating us, making us feel safe and secure we get to be rescued. We are off the hook. We get to avoid having to love our self. The savior takes on this responsibility and feeds their own false sense of empowerment.

Once someone has rescued you they now have a measure of control over you. They have established a position where they can influence your behavior. Once you surrender your power to another it is very difficult to take any action. You become a sheep in the herd. As long as we believe God is out there or found through the next spiritual teacher or guru we remain spiritually famished.

What if each individual believed and followed the truth of their own authentic voice? What if the value of individual truth was greater than the dogma of blind faith? Would centuries old traditions still hold merit?

When we believe someone outside of our self holds more power than we do, be it a priest, rabbi, guru, yogi, shaman, monk, (the spiritual title really does not matter) we give away a piece of our soul.

One of the practices I love in shamanism is that of burning your teachers in a ceremonial fire. Our spiritual teachers, from whatever tradition we hail from, can become obstacles on our own path. Anyone or anything that we believe holds more power than we do is where we weave cords of co-dependency.

Weeding out the untruths is how we come to know what is authentic for our own heart and soul. The seeds of religious truth intersect at some sacred junction of the human mind and divine mind. Truth land in our being as a knowing. No doctrine is needed to defend or justify their validity.

Truth is something each of us must find for our self. Just because someone says so does not make it true. Just because it is written in a holy book does not make it doctrine. We must discern if words spoken through a spiritual authority resonate with our own. If we look long enough we get to see the many false idols, false prophets and false beliefs imprinted through a collective consciousness of voices we have been swimming in for centuries.

Upending the throne of the outer authority reveals the seat of the glorious power that is you.








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I was listening to Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, talk about how our wrong perceptions cause suffering. Our biggest sufferings come from death. If we get our perceptions straight even death will cease to cause suffering.

In self realized Truth there is no Death. Nothing comes. Nothing goes. Our existence is eternal with the incarnation of this form a mere blip on the infinite radar screen. As I have not yet achieved this level of self realization, death still brings with it pain.

I have learned much from the profound teacher of Death as darkness has descended on my heart. What I have been most afraid of losing is now gone. As the death of my most intimate relationship shatters my heart, I break open to deaths within the death within the death. It is as if this initial crack is but a portal to a torrent of deaths that have laid dormant, silently crying to be seen. This death of relationship with my most beloved is intertwined with the death of my father, his loss from my life not fully expressed since his death last year. How do we know when a grief is complete? This death of relationship brings death to visions of a future, dreams clinging on clouds of illusion.

An even bigger death lay below the surface as death to dogma comes crumbling down. A dogma that has laid a foundation of pain and suffering based on the belief if I love even more, then he will love me. This operating system seeks for a love that will never be met for it is always asking for more love in order to operate. As heartbreaking as it feels, more love does not get him to love me, more love does not make him want me and more love certainly does not get him to change. For to love with all I have, to love in the best way I know how will never be enough for this insatiable karmic loop. No amount of love will satisfy its quotient for then the loop would cease to exist. Even the loop is afraid to die.

In many ways, this is the most difficult death to wrestle with for it has provided a fundamental orientation to reality in its most intimate expression. It has steered me in the direction of what I thought was love. Death to the bedrock of this dogma shatters everything I thought I knew about what it means to love, what it means to be loving, what does love feel like to receive. My heart crashes in an avalanche of disbelief taking with it all the answers to what is love.

So what really dies here?

Misguided truths that were built to insure certainty. The death of these false prophets can only bring the clarity of Truth. When our fundamental beliefs dismantle, our internal compass loses all bearing. The ground beneath our feet dissolves into dust.

“The Shaman is one who has already died. He has overcome our greatest fear and is free from it. Death can no longer claim him.” Alberto Villoldo

But when all is uncertain, when we enter the mystery of what is not known, therein lies all that is possible. We have nothing to lose for our greatest fear, our fear of death, has come. Out of the ashes of that death we rise, reborn into a Truth for which our Soul yearns.

Where we are stuck, afraid to make a move or decision, we can strip its essence to this fear of death. For to make a decision means we must let go of something. A belief, a relationship, a false hope, a deceptive illusion, a distorted sense of security. We hold on to these false prophets, no matter how much they misalign our Soul, all in a vain attempt to avoid the pain of death. Death, in any way, shape or form, is letting go. Death does not let us cling to any shred of illusion that distorts our Truth. Death can seem a cruel teacher yet it is precisely this clean incision of Death that is its benevolence. How do we evolve into the fullness of our Truth while bound and chained to distorted dogma?

Death comes. This is certain. How we meet Death is our choice. And in my wrong perception, death still hurts. But only through death may I be reborn. And the rebirth that emerges is the integrity of my Soul. A respect for my Self that will not surrender to illusionary fantasies of a distorted truth. Death is the only way to bring an end to the dogma of pain and suffering. As I welcome Death, know it as the integral part of life that it is, maybe, just maybe, I will get my perception straight.

AHO my friends! AHO!

Karen Chrappa
Author of A Structure for Spirit

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